Even though there is no standard format for a research report, there is considerable consensus with respect to many elements of the format. The description of format presented here represents some of the common elements. However, before making a decision about format, consult with your faculty Capstone Advisor and, if applicable, your internship supervisor.
Style of the Report
- The anticipated audience for the report consists of professionals who are doing research work in same area. The report should be written in reference to this group.
- Consistency in style and terminology is desired. Use an appropriate style manual (Chicago Manual of Style or Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association).
- Simplicity, clarity, directness, and precision are all desired traits of research writing.
- Avoid personal or unsupported judgments. Be objective.
- The report should be written in the past tense with the exception of hypotheses and suggestions for future research.
- The level of precision of the data reported should be appropriate to data collected and not beyond that level.
The Policy Studies faculty have decided to start publishing student Capstone projects in an online database called ResearchWorks.
This form of electronic publication will replace the former requirement to submit bound, paper copies of the Capstone manuscript, so you do not have to spend time or money printing and binding your work. Now you simply sign and submit a distribution license agreement and then upload the Capstone manuscript to a secure dropbox. One of the primary benefits of this publication method is that your work will be searchable on the Internet. While paper Capstones are theoretically visible to anyone who visits the UWB Library, ResearchWorks will allow much greater and quicker access.
After you complete your Capstone project, please follow these steps:
- Print out and sign the Non-exclusive Distribution License, and submit it to the IAS Graduate Office. Scanned versions of the signed document will be accepted via email.
- Upload your final Capstone manuscript in pdf format (Adobe Acrobat) to the Policy Studies drop box by the deadline (see calendar).
Note that if you would like a bound, paper version of your Capstone manuscript for yourself, you are welcome to take this step. More information about ResearchWorks is available on the ResearchWorks FAQ page.
The title page is the first page of the manuscript. There is no signature page since the manuscript is now submitted in electronic form. The title page should not be included in the page numbering. (See Appendix A).
Individual Sections Of The Report
The number of chapters in the Capstone is not fixed. Also, the sequence of items within a given chapter or even the nature of items to be grouped together is not standard. However, in most cases you will present their finding in a five-chapter report format, generally grouped as described below.
Chapter 1 – Purpose Of The Study
- Statement of purpose (problem)
- Justification of importance of the study
- Definitions of terms (if you use anything that is unknown to most readers)
All sections should be brief.
Problem statement should indicate the who, what, where and when of the study. Descriptions of these elements should be specific but not detailed.
The problem statement should be located near the beginning of the chapter.
Final operational details of the problem statement will be described in the methodology section so the problem statement should be made with this fact in mind.
The first chapter should contain information necessary for a reader to place the general area of study. There should be some information (delimitations) to indicate the scope of the study.
Major constructs of the problem statement should be defined it this is necessary. Complete operational definitions may occur later in the report (Methodology section). However, some stipulative definitions may be necessary to help the reader to follow the development of the Review of Literature.
Chapter 2 – Review Of Literature
- Include only those references that have some immediate implications for the study. Be explicit in demonstrating or stating the relevance of all cited literature.
- The review should be in the form of an integrated presentation of all material. It should not contain a simple listing (annotated bibliography).
- When summarizing or comparing studies be sure to note possible differences between samples, measurement techniques, etc. Summarize only truly comparable sources.
- How to construct a literature review? Consider the following issues: the selection of the problem, delimiting the scope of the problem, demonstrating the relationship of the study to previous knowledge, indication the contribution of the study, and examining tools and methods to investigate the problem.
- The review of literature may contain both conceptual and research literature.
- The investigator must be selective with respect to the quality of the sources cited.
Chapter 3 – Methodology – The Who, What, When, Where Of Data Collection
- Statement of Methodology—What kind of data collection procedure will you use? Example: If you were to sample people from the community to interview, tell the reader what type of sampling procedure you would perform (Random, Stratified, Snowball). Same applies for Interviews, secondary data collection using cross tabs, correlation, regression etc….
- Operational definitions
- What are the dependent and independent variables in your study?
- Data analysis techniques
- Pretesting and pilot studies
The essential criterion for a well-written methodology section is whether or not replications of the study could be conducted by independent investigators using this section as a guide.
Any data describing the sample are not results. They should be included in this chapter rather than in a “Results” chapter.
The section describing measurement techniques should include some treatment of validity and reliability.
The data analysis sections should contain information about the statistical analysis techniques that will be used. The practice of specifying levels of significance and statistical hypotheses is not uniform.
It may be desirable, but is not yet common practice, to report the more important “blind alleys” or unproductive approaches considered and abandoned.
Chapter 4 – Results And Discussion
The content of this chapter is usually arranged around headings related to the specific hypotheses of the study.
Results and discussion can both occur in the same chapter but they should be very clearly distinguished. Some writers prefer to present the results and discussion of each separate element of the study together rather than first listing all of the results followed by all of the discussion.
The term “results” refers to the actual data of the study. The term “discussion” refers to the interpretation of the data.
The discussions must be based on the data, not on the experience or background of the investigator.
The discussions should consider all possible alternate explanations of the data. There should be a definite decision stated in respect to these alternate explanations and the relationship between the decision and the data or the methodology should be indicated.
The discussions should also relate the study to the previous results reported in the review of literature.
The data must be accepted or the whole study should be abandoned prior to the presentation of results. Some investigators find all sorts of weaknesses in their study after they see data that does not support their belief. Don’t use “weakness” of the study to explain an undesired result.
The results section should contain both descriptive and inferential information. However, only summary values are usually presented. Complete data for all individual observations may be placed in an appendix of the report.
Chapter 5 – Conclusions
- Limitations of the Study
- Suggestions for future investigation
- Implications of the study
The conclusions should be stated in terms of the original research questions or hypothesis.
Both the implications and the suggestions for future research should be based on the results of the study.
The implications section may discuss the meaning of the data for educational practitioners or theorists.
The suggestions for future research may contain information representing new insights or unexpected results of the study.